Bang! Bang! Bang! Someone pounded heavily on my door and I heard the deep, raspy voice of a Wolf demanding I open it immediately.
“This is Protector Ralph from the Precinct,” he added, when I hesitated in silence.
My nerves had been on edge ever since I’d seen Kara at the asylum. A whole week had gone by and every day I felt someone watching me.
There were so many unanswered questions, I didn’t know what to do or what my next move should be. Should I wait for Kara? How would I know if she was released? If I did go to the forest, how would I survive? Even if the Ostriches were not violent, I knew nothing about living off the land.
For the last few nights I couldn’t sleep, and stayed awake wondering how many people were in my position: able to see something was amiss, but unwilling to leave for fear that reality may be even more brutal than the charade.
Most of all, I wondered why Marcus didn’t try to save me too. After all, I had stuck my neck out for his sister. I was peeved he had left me in this predicament without so much as a word of gratitude or direction. And now. . . maybe it was all over. With my heart in my throat and a wide, fake smile on my face, I opened the door.
Two Wolves in full uniform stood at the door, looking me up and down like I was a perfectly grilled pork chop.
“How can I help you, Officers?” I asked with as much confidence as I could manage.
“I’m Protector Ralph, and this is Protector Phil,” the biggest Wolf replied. “We are looking for a very dangerous traitor who was last seen in this neighborhood.”
“Oh!” I said, a little relieved. At least they weren’t here for me. “What does he. . .or is it a she. . . look like?”
“A little older than you, male, dark hair and eyes, thin and wiry, probably wearing a hooded jacket. Goes by the name Marcus.”
“I have not seen him,” I said truthfully, and with assertive confidence that stemmed from my irritation at the so-called bad guy.
“Hey, aren’t you the lady who brought those bacon bit treats by the Precinct?” Protector Phil asked suddenly, sniffing at the air in my apartment.
“Yes,” I said, “that was me. I do everything I can to support our brave Protectors. And. . . I was just making another batch of bacon bit treats for the Protector on the corner of my street. Would you strong fellows like one?”
They nodded eagerly, and I went to the kitchen to get a plate of treats I had waiting for just such a purpose. Bribes come in every shape and flavor.
“So what has this traitor done?” I asked, while they gulped down their treats. “I mean, if I should see him, just how dangerous is he?”
“He’s trying to kill his sister,” Protector Ralph answered around a mouth full. “He’s been hunting her for weeks, and we have reason to believe he’s hunting you and possibly others as well.”
“Oh, dear!” I exclaimed, hiding trembling hands behind my back. “How dreadful! Are you watching the building carefully? I shall be terrified if I know he’s around and no one is looking out for me!”
“We have been,” Protector Phil assured me. “But we haven’t seen him for several days now, so he’s probably gone. If we believed you were in danger, we’d stick around, but, there’s no need now. Just be sure to call us if anyone suspicious shows up.”
“I certainly will!” I assured them as they left. I leaned against the closed door to breathe and collect my senses.
No sooner had I straightened up and taken a step toward the kitchen when another knock sounded on my door. I nearly jumped out of my skin.